Alecia Phonesavanh told local media outlets that her 19-month-old son was sleeping in his playpen when the raid began Wednesday morning. She says the flash grenade, which makes a loud noise and bright flash to distract people during raids, landed in the boy's playpen and went off near his face.
Phonesavanh said the boy's face was severely burned, and he was in a medically induced coma in a hospital. She said her family had been visiting from out of town and were all sleeping when the raid happened around 3 a.m.
Officers did not know children were inside the home and would have done things differently if they had seen anything to indicate that kids were inside, Cornelia Police Chief Rick Darby told WSB-TV. He said officers were distraught over what happened.
"You're trying to minimize anything that could go wrong and in this case the greatest thing went wrong," Darby told the station. "Is it going to make us be more careful in the next one? Yes ma'am, it is. It's gonna make us double question."
Authorities were serving a no-knock warrant on the house after an informant told investigators he bought drugs from the home, Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The suspect wasn't at the home and was later arrested at a different home on drug charges.
"The last thing you want is law enforcement to injure someone innocent," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Terrell as saying. "There was no malicious act performed. It was a terrible accident that was never supposed to happen."